This town seems to have an affinity for avian-themed restaurants. From Weekly-favorite Clay Pigeon to the relatively new Branch & Bird, fowl-themed eateries do well in the Fort. This trend goes all the way back to late 2013 and Bird Café, which has been flying relatively under the radar (considering its Sundance Square Plaza location) for six years now and seems to only continue to improve with age, at least as far as the bar is concerned.
It’s easy to forget that when Bird Café first opened, it featured an exotic, meat-heavy, beer hall vibe that didn’t quite track with the light airiness invoked by a name like “Bird Café.” It was also a little too similar to the Flying Saucer Draught Emporium, which is owned by the same parent company and sits just a block away. But unlike some of our more stubborn former restaurants (R.I.P. AF+B, Bite City Grill, Sera, and many others), Bird quickly pivoted, settling on the farm-to-table aesthetic that people seemed to have been expecting. Brunch and lunch are almost always packed, and the eatery remains a go-to spot for impressing out-of-towners, particularly with its idyllic covered patio that sits practically on top of the bustling square. That patio, and the drinks we sip on it, are what really keep my friends and me coming back.
During a recent “Hatching Hour” (4-7pm Mon-Fri), a group of us met for a post-workweek gathering to unwind, people-watch, and peruse Bird’s rather extensive cocktail list, which was recently revamped. Many of the drinks are classic cocktails with subtle and not-so-subtle twists in both name and make, and the bar area is bright and breezy, unlike many of the bars around here peddling craft cocktails, which always seem to be darkly lit or windowless.
I first opted for a Frenchie, a take on the classic French 75 that added strawberry puree, which made for a refreshing opening salvo to our Friday night. My drinking buddy asked for the friendly bartender’s recommendation. “Have you had your daily tequila yet?” the barkeep queried, half-teasingly. I’m not sure I want to meet someone who has a daily tequila regimen, but nevertheless, the Sierra Missed, a funky margarita with jalapeño-infused tequila and just enough blueberry to turn the drink vibrantly pink, satisfied my friend’s adventurous palate and saw him pulling out his phone to “Instagram” (verb) the photogenic cocktail.
My husband and I visited again during this past holiday weekend with some guests, where it seemed we weren’t the only ones thinking to impress visitors with fancy cocktails in a bustling downtown setting. Many people sitting alongside us at the gold-painted birdseed bar (the bird theme is ever-present but nothing to roll your eyes at) looked like they had come straight from the Charles Schwab Challenge and were sipping $3 drafts as the golf tourney played silently on a non-intrusive TV hanging above the bar. This time, I ordered a Fitzgerald, a favorite of mine that can be hard to find around town. Bird’s pastel-pink concoction of Waterloo lavender gin, Aperol, bitters, and lemon was surprisingly well balanced, as I had been expecting the lavender to overpower everything.
Similarly, my husband’s standard-seeming Moscow Mule was elevated with the addition of hibiscus, which lent a sweet, floral note to balance out the strong flavor of the ginger beer. Our guest’s staff-recommended Oh Mai Tai looked nothing like the tropical rum bomb I’m used to. Instead, the beverage was elegantly presented in a coupe after being shaken with pistachio orgeat (a syrup of rose or orange water and some kind of nut — usually almonds) and strawberry.
Bird’s new menu of modern, unique takes on recognizable drinks combined all of the excitement of a truly progressive cocktail program without the pretension of most other cocktail bars. The bar isn’t just impressive to tourists –– locals need to find this menu, too.
155 E 4th St, FW.